Clergy Gather Outside Gun Group’s Newtown Headquarters, Call For Safeguards

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Religious leaders from different faiths united Thursday to call for greater gun safety in the United States.

They descended upon the headquarters of a national gun group based in Connecticut, not far from the scene of the Sandy Hook massacre, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.

“I implore the National Shooting Sports Foundation to meet with us,” said Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel of Newtown.

Praver stood alongside like-minded clergy from all over Connecticut. Yarmulkes were seen side by side with Roman collars and crosses in the town where a gunman killed 27 people — including 20 children — in December 2012.

It was a push for heightened gun safety.

“It seems to us that what they’re most concerned about is making their product more lethal,” said Rabbi James Prosnit of Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport.

The group delivered a plea to the trade organization headquartered in Newtown to promote so-called “smart gun” technology — personalized, owner-only safeguards that have not yet been embraced by the gun industry.

The Rev. Anthony Bennett of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport called it “resistance for unnecessary reasons.”

Attempts at marketing smart guns made overseas have been met with hostility in the United States. The NSSF has said previously there is no market for the weapons.

The group is second to only the National Rifle Association in lobbying for the the gun industry. A representative at the NSSF politely accepted the appeal, telling the clergy members that bosses were out of the office preparing for an upcoming gun show in Las Vegas.

The clergy-based group denies it’s effort is anti-gun.

MORE: Congregations Organized For A New Connecticut | Do Not Stand Idly By | National Shooting Sports Foundation

“When people talked about automobile safety, were we anti-car?” said the Rev. Matthew Crebbin of Newtown Congregational Church. “We’re not anti-car. We want to prevent tragedies.”

Thursday’s effort was ultimately directed at the companies that make guns in the U.S. The same clergy-based group has managed to get 69 police jurisdictions to ask manufacturers for more smart gun technology in the United States — the kind of weapon that wouldn’t have to be locked up because it could only be fired by the owner.

“There are a lot of moms out there who aren’t thinking about what happens if their children get hold of their guns,” said Barbara Richardson, a Sandy Hook resident.

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